promoting partnership. >> i voice my strong support for japan's vibrant reconstruction efforts. u.n. secretary-general ban ki-moon ked the international commune it to continue to assist in japan's recovery. welcome to nhk world "newsline," sunday marks the first anniversary of the quake and tsunami that devastated japan. as reconstruction efforts continue, u.n.
secretary-general ban ki-moon delivered a message of fellowship. he spoke in new york on thursday at an event held to mourn victims. about 300 senior u.n. officials and u.n. ambassadors offered silent prayers. >> in fukushima i spoke about tsuna, our bonds of friendship. it also means international solidarity. united nations stands with japan just as japan has always stood by the united nations. >> japan's ambassador to the u.n. expressed gratitude for the support. he said japan will use lessons it learned through disasters to step up its contribution to countries around the world. people in italy are also expressing support for japan. students from a city in italy that's seen its share of earthquakes have reached out to the japanese. with a musical performance. laquila was devastated by an earthquake three years ago. japan helped to reconstruct a
music hall there. more than 200 people attended the event in rome. among them italian president giorgio napolitano and former prime minister lamberto dini. the students sang mozart's "gloria." ♪ >> translator: the disasters united the people of japan and italy and strengthened our friendship. japanese traditional dancers from iwate, hit hard by the disaster, perform to express their gratitude. the ambassador also expressed thanks, saying the japanese people were encouraged by the messages and the financial generosity of the italian people. we've been bringing you
stories all week leading up to the anniversary of japan's disaster in our series, lessons of march 11, one year on. the magnitude 9 earthquake triggered a tsunami and nuclear crisis. more than 15,000 people died and about 3,300 others are still missing. today we focus on japan's energy policy. the accident at the fukushima daiichi prompted a rethink of this country's reliance on nuclear power. japapan has been the third largt generator of nuclear power they're scheduled to be shut down for regular inspection by may. the process to restart reactors is complicated. they must first pass stress tests and the government has vowed to get local approval as well. before the accident, nuclear power supplied about 30% of japan's energy needs.
the government had originally planned to raise this to 53% of supply by the year 2030. but now, prime minister noda says the country will reduce its dependence on nuclear energy. nhk world's chi yam gucci joins us now, so how is the government following through with noda's plan. >> an advisory committee has been appointed, and they are now discussion how to revise energy policy. one of the topics include whether japan should stop generating nuclear power all together. >> translator: radiation scares us because it is invisible. and it has huge negative effects. considering our responsibility for future generations and other ethical issuesatomic energy is no longer an option. >> translator: nuclear fuel is a very powerful high density
energy source that will last for a long time. it has the advantage of price stability and contributes to energy security. >> committee members who support nuclear power emphasize it is cheaper and emits no greenhouse gases. many big companies back nuclear energy and so does japan business federation. but the opposing voices say radio activity -- radioactivity is harmful to the environment and human beings. radioactive circumstances can cause cancer and damage genes. there's also the cost and dangers associated with storing radioactive waste. >> so chie, when will the government make its decision about its new energy policy? >> the committee will submit a proposal in the spring, outlining several options.
the government is expected to decide on its plan in the summer. some people are hoping it will do some alternative thinking before them. >> while japan's future energy policy remains in limbo, momentum has been growing among companies to start renewable energy businesses. one of them is so-called meg solar business. mega solar refers to power plants that generate more than 1,000 kilowatts of solar power. japan's third largest carrier, softbank, is among the first to announce the plan to branch out into this business after last year's catastrophe. that's because the system didn't work for a while after the disaster, as the quake and tsunami crippled power supplies.
the nuclear plant accident also prompted softbank's chairman to decide to look for alternative energy sources. >> i'd like to build a model case on how to use natural sources of energy. i hope that our entry into the renewable energy business will encourage many more companies to follow. >> last december softbank built three experimental solar power facilities in hokkaido in northern japan. future plans include construction of more than ten mega solar plant capable of producing more than 200 megawatts in total. softbank's move cos ahead of upcoming changes in the country's power industry. beginning in july, the
government plans to require utilities to buy all electricity generated by renewable energy sources at fixed prices and for certain periods of time, those prices and durations are to be set in spring. the industry will not expand if power companies are going to lose money. the purchase prices must be high enough and the durations long enough for small or local businesses to decide to join. >> reporter: a financial institution has also decided to help promote use of renewable energy and support energy-saving efforts by private homes. the bank ranking second among credit unions in japan in terms of deposits, it switched to led l.e.d. lighting to save energy. it has also changed as energy supplier for a company that doesn't use nuclear power.
for buyers of energy-saving equipment, like solar panels, l.e.d. and solar cells, the credit union has started the high interest time deposit service and loan service with no interest in the first year. >> translator: i admire the union for going ahead with this, instead of just kicking the idea around. i can see how serious they are. >> translator: i am tempted to use their system. >> translator: i am well aware of the formidable risk that nuclear power generation could ruin japanese society. as a company, we have to do something. we should effectively assess the situation to make drastic changes to our energy policy. >> today the government finds itself under pressure to respect and respond to corporate efforts to spread the use of alternative
energy. many japanese people are behind them. they think it's time for the government to make changes. >> what's the japanese public view on alternative energy? >> many people are more concerned about nuclear power since the accident, but unlike countries vowing to move away from atomic energy, such as italy and germany, japan hasn't made that pledge. more citizens want to have a say in how the government crafts its energy policy. they say in the past, nuclear was the focus and the renewables were sidelined. they hope what happened at fukushima will show that all forms of energy should be considered. >> definitely so. thank you very much for that, chie. nhk world's chie yamagishi.
europe is responding to the fukushima accident. the man in charge of energy policy for the european union says officials there are drafting new safety standards for the region's 143 nuclear plants. gunter oettinger believes the draft could come in october or november. he says eu officials are conductingafety nets for emergencies including natural disasters and airplane crashes. results should be released in june. eu members have different policies. german leaders, for example, decided to scrap nuclear power after fukushima, but other countries continue to build new plants. all members agree on the need to create common standard for nuclear safety. >> there's one common understanding, highest standards for safety and security. and i think we have a new level of stability and of ambition to
realize higher standards, as this our common european approach. >> oettinger will visit japan to discuss energy and policies. an earthquake that jolted a nation, a tsunami that swallowed a coastline, a nuclear plant that spiralled out of control. japan marks the first anniversary of the march 11th disaster. what lessons have been learned? find out on our special program, "lessons of march 11th, one year on," sunday, 2 p.m. japan time, only on nhk world. six world powers are calling on iran to let international inspectors enter a military facility suspected of being used to develop nuclear weapons. iran rejected the iaea request to enter the site when the nuclear watchdog sent monitors in january and february.
the u.s., britain, france, germany, russia and china made the call in a joint statement at an iaea board meeting. they expressed strong concern about iran's accelerator uranium enrichment activity and lack of independent monitoring. >> if it does not provide the agency with the necessary cooperation, and i mean concrete cooperation, to carry out its mandate in iran, then the board of governors at its next meeting in june will have to look at further steps. >> iran's ambassador said his country is ready to cooperate but pledged to push ahead with the nuclear program. >> we never ever suspend our nuclear activities, and will continue to do so. >> iran announced earlier this week that it would admit inspectors to the site, but the head of the nuclear watchdog, says tehran has yet to formally contact the agency. the u.s. state department expressed optimism that united
states will provide food aid to north korea. washington promised aid in exchange of pyongyang's nuclear activities. >> i think we are cautiously optimistic that this is going to work out, that we will be able to deliver the nutritional assistance. >> nuland said a number of technical issues have to be resolved, and she didn't say when aid shipments might begin. officials from both sides ended two days of talks on the issue of beijing on thursday. u.s. special envoy robert king indicated the north agreed to u.s. demand for monitoring, to ensure the food reaches the needy and is not diverted to the military. u.n. leaders asked kofi annan to use his influence in syria. the former secretary-general is headed to syria as a special envoy of u.n. and arab league. he will do what he can to urge assad and opposition forces to negotiate a political solution.
annan med with the chief in cairo, and annan said hostilities must stop immediately, and called a humanitarian aid activity in the country. some arab nations still support military intervention. annan says that would only make the situation worse. >> i hope that no one is thinking very seriously of using force in this situation. >> annan will be the first u.n. special envoy to visit syria since antigovernment protests began a year ago. >> thousands of people meanwhile, have joined opposition over the last year. now a senior government official has resigned and defected. oil deputy minister announced his resignation in a video posted on youtube. he says he is defecting because of the violence against the syrian people. he is the highest ranking
official to leave the assad administration since the uprising began. he said he served 33 years in various sz government positions. he said he doesn't want to end his life servicing the crimes of the regime. he urged his colleagues to abandon what he called a sinking ship. analysts say he may be reaching out to members of the president's a la we muslim sect. many of them hold key government posts. greece is set to announce the outcome of debt reduction talks with private sector investors on friday. holders of greek government bonds including financial institutions, were given until thursday night to decide whether they would agree to a reduction of more than 50% on the amount they will get back. debt restructuring is part of the conditions for greece to receive 130 billion euros or
about $170 billion u.s. dollars. that's in addition to support from organizations including the european union. greece aims to secure agreement from at least 75% of bondholders. failure to meet this target could have an impact on the overall framework of the additional bailout. the total amount of greek government bonds in question is over 200 billion euros. even if 75% of investors agree, greece has indicated it may force the remaining bondholders to accept the reductions. analyst are concerned that such an action could cause confusion among investors and cast a shadow on the outlook for the european debt crisis. the international monetary fund says it will discuss the bailout package for greece at a board meeting next week. an imf spokesperson said on thursday that greece is making steady progress on fiscal restructuring, a prerequisite for receiving additional aid. the imf says greece is taking on a strong set of reforms. it also says although there are risks, the country can return to
a growth path if all parties fulfill their roles. the european central bank is decided to keep its key interest rate at a a record 1% to support the eurozone economy. >> available serve indicators confirm signs of a stabilization in the euro area economy. however, the economic outlook is still subject to downside risks. >> central bank is keeping the rate unchanged for a third straight month. this was decided as a board meeting in frankfurt on thursday. the european central bank has provided over 1 trillion euro in loans to banks across the region in december and february to help ease concerns about the debt crisis. sharp is to build large scale solar plants, that is, in japan. the company aims to earn stable revenue. as legislation to promote renewable power generation is set to go into effect later this year.
the japanese consumer electronics firm plans to build three large solar farms known as mega solar plants. one is north of tokyo. sharp will lease a 6.8 hectare lot in a local industrial firm. they are in talks with two municipalities in northern japan to lease properties in the two areas. the move comes as so-called feed and tariff program is scheduled to go in effect in july. under this scheme, power generating companies, such as tepco, must buy electricity from renewable sources. nine pacific rim countries that make up the transpacific partnership are currently holding trade negotiations in australia. talks began on march 1st and includes the united states, australia, new zealand and six other countries. some nations see the tpp as a way to counter the economic influence of china. and as nhk world's akiko reports
from vietnam, there is a growing sense of urgency. >> reporter: vietnam is one of the countries taking part in the tpp negotiation. it also shares a border with china. china launched a free trade agreement two years ago. within a year, china had become vietnam's largest trading partner. vietnam's primary exports to china are commodities such as grains, meat and seafood. >> translator: our exports to china are growing. that's because vietnamese products are cheaper. >> reporter: but vietnam now imports more from china than it exports. assembled or processed goods such as consumer
electronics are still made in china are creating the deficit. >> translator: there's a constant stream of household electrical appliances made in china. >> reporter: vietnam fears its economy ricks becoming reliant on china. it's looking for new trading partner. >> translator: we have the advantage in the fields of food and agricultural products. vietnam is in the process of joininthe world economy. we're targeting the markets of other tpp countries. >> reporter: as the tpp discussions continue, each country at the negotiating table has its own agenda. for vietnam, the agenda is to protect its rapid economic growth. but without being so dependent on china.
akiko ichihara, nhk world, ha i hanoi. the mediterranean has been hit by some powerful storms. for more on that, let's go to sayaka mori who has the world weather forecast. rain has been pounding southern italy because of a successions of a low pressure system. let's go to video out of sicily. a violent storm hit the southern italian island of sicily wednesday night. people tried to drive through flooded streets. you can see the broken road here. the heavy rain caused some structural damage. trains and flights were also stopped during the storm, which also delivered large hail. right now sicily is experiencing a break in the rain. however this low pressure system will move to the north, so thunderstorms will continue into next week so additional flash floods will be a concern. meanwhile,
dry conditions for most of the continental european countries. however, to the in order wet and windy in northern british isles as well as norway. over the next 24 hours, precipitation will move into the rest of the scandinavian peninsula. temperature rising to 6 degrees in stockholm and 10 degrees in berlin and out towards the east, still on the cool side, minus 7 degrees in moscow. minus 2 in kiev. but temperatures will moderate into next week, so that's good news. down towards the south getting up to 18 degrees in athens with thundershowers. now heading over to east asia, thundershowers are expanding over the indochina peninsula, cambodia and northern thailand will be at the high risk of flash floods. meanwhile, rain showers on the south coast of china will continue into the next week. as for japan, widespread showers, southern half of the country. most of the precipitation will be gone by saturday afternoon. however, another round of rainy weather is on the way to impact
the tohoku area as well as western japan. snow is also possible in tohoku starting sunday. heading over to the americas, a long frontal line has been sliding over the eastern u.s. and canada, spreading heavy precipitation and strong winds from eastern canada all the way down to the southern plains. however, finally, severe weather in eastern texas, louisiana and mississippi will come to an end on friday. so that's good news. however, torrential rain will continue over the weekend. so you do want to watch out for flooding. as the rain comes in, temperatures will drop significantly. we will show you the details in just a moment. meanwhile, drying out across most of the rest of the u.s. however, a pacific low pressure system is moving into british columbia and pacific northwest. so another round of stormy weather is on the way. temperaturewise, getting up to
8 degrees in vancouver and 11 degrees in seattle. summer-like conditions in los angeles with 27 degrees. out towards the east, as i mentioned, it's temperatures drop significantly on your friday. cooling down to 9 degrees in new york and 14 degrees in washington, d.c. all right, i will leave you now with your extended forecast. ♪
northeastern japan. as the country's reconstruction efforts continue, u.n. secretary-general ban ki-moon delivered a message of fellowship. ban spoke at an event on thursday in new york. about 300 senior officials and u.n. ambassadors offered silent prayers. >> in fukushima i spoke about tsuna, our bonds of friendship. it also means international solidarity. the united nations stands with japan just as japan has always stood by the united nations. >> japan's ambassador to the u.n. expressed gratitude for the support. he said japan will use the lessons it learned through the disaster to step up its contribution to countries around the world. we'll be back with more news in 30 minutes. i'm gene otani in tokyo.